Being prepared paid dividends for Science Hill’s girls soccer team Tuesday night.
When goalkeeper Jona Charles was taken off the field on a stretcher with 15 minutes left in the game, the Lady Hilltoppers carried on seamlessly and earned a 1-0 victory over rival Dobyns-Bennett at Tipton Stadium.
They improved to 5-0 in Big Eight Conference play and 9-1 overall. D-B slipped to 2-1-1 and 6-2-2.
Perhaps the biggest reason Science Hill didn’t give up a late goal was because of ready-to-go backup Shelley Seaton.
“She volunteered to play goalkeeper in junior-varsity games to get more experience,” said Science Hill head coach Megan Aldridge. “When you want to get that experience, it shows you are willing to learn. She made some great saves.”
Included in those saves was the final play of the game, when Seaton denied D-B’s shot on goal and brought the Science Hill fans to their feet just seconds before the referee signaled the end of the contest.
Seaton said she wasn’t really thinking on that play, just reacting.
“I guess I had it under control,” she said.
Seaton was summoned to action after Charles was hit in the face by a hard shot as she charged toward the top of the box. Charles stayed down, and said she had pain in her neck and back.
“She plays all-out, all the time,” said Aldridge. “After the injury, she was talking to us and she was herself. She had feeling in her fingers and toes. It was precautionary to let the ambulance people move her.”
That put the spotlight on Seaton.
“I was nervous for (Charles) and I was nervous about the situation,” said Seaton, who added that she had been in pressure situations on the varsity prior to this game.
Science Hill seemed to lose some momentum after Charles’ injury, and D-B got some nice late-game opportunities. Aldridge said she believed it was because the stoppage allowed D-B to rest.
Science Hill scored the game’s only goal just nine minutes into the contest. Jessica Fabozzi cleaned up a D-B mess in the box, and sizzled a diagonal shot into the net.
A head touch by a D-B defender left the ball in a dangerous spot, and Fabozzi was spot on.
“I just capitalized on it,” said Fabozzi. “I saw it coming. You’ve got to expect it.”
Fabozzi said the victory was important for the Hilltoppers.
“This is a big win,” she said. “D-B is probably our biggest competition in the league. We had our ‘A game,’ considering all the things that happened.”
When asked what he thought about his team creating more opportunities late in the game, D-B head coach Chris Woods said, “Science Hill played very well tonight.”
When asked what his team could have done to have won the game, Woods said, “Play better than they did.”
When asked what he thought about his team’s progress to this point in the season, Woods said, “We are 6-2-2.”
Next up for the Hilltoppers is the Science Hill Invitational. Tennessee High, Elizabethton, University High, Livingston Academy and South-Doyle will join Science Hill in the two-day event, which begins Friday at 5 p.m. and wraps up with Saturday’s championship at 7 p.m.
“We don’t have the publicity of other tournaments in the state, but do our best to make it a well-run tournament,” said Aldridge. “We are trying to make it a top-notch tournament.”